Where would we be without the inventions of the great men of the world? Apple - Steve Jobs, the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell, the atomic bomb - Albert Einstein, the gun - Richard Gatling. Nowhere - right? But what about those more practical inventions, the ones that are necessity - those that you use unthinkingly every day?
Below are inventions by women that you could not live without - whether for sanity or vanity, everything below - from the dishwasher to the hairbrush, was invented by women for practicality and advantageous purposes. They go largely unrecognized now, because they are mostly objects or entities we take for granted, but SWAAY has decided to pause amidst the roaring tide of products and inventions that we could live without in 2017, to languish in the glory of those that we really couldn't survive without.
The Car Heater
Margaret Wilcox is the woman you have to thank for 1. de-fogging your windows and 2. keeping you toasty in sub-0 temperatures in your car. She was patented for the car radiator back in 1893 and how many lives/chilly journeys has she saved since? Millions. Try picture a car journey in December through the mountains, without a heater, cold right? All hail Wilcox for our fingers and toes getting through the chillier of seasons.
Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr became a trailblazer in the field of wireless communications when she moved to the U.S.
Working to combat Nazi transmissions during WWII, her and co-inventor George Anthiel warped radio frequencies to break difficult code. The invention would go on to prove extremely useful during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their work has now translated into tech such as wifi and bluetooth. She was the first female to receive the 'oscar' of inventor awards - the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award back in 1977.
The Computer Algorithm
Born Ada Gordon, but known as Ada Lovelace - child of the renowned poet Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella Milbanke, was 'the first computer programmer' to produce algorithms. Lovelace came across Charles Babbage, philosopher, mathematician and mechanical engineer, in her pursuit of a career in mathematics, and the pair would go on to become great friends. Babbage called Lovelace 'The Enchantress of Science', and indeed, she would be the first of all those working with him to produce the goods for his vision of the 'analytical engine', or computer. Her articles rendered the most sense and logic towards this dream machine and were the first published. The list of consequences that emerged from Lovelace's work is very literally endless. And yet it's Babbage's name that most will regognize - why? It was a recurring problem at the time and an analysis of a lot of female inventors will find that many hid in the shadows of the man or guardian or male co-inventor in their life, only to emerge now, in the whits of feminism for the praise and inspirational achievements.
Florence Parpart, a historical mystery, was indeed the inventor of the modern 'fridge'. In 1914, she won a second patent for the modern refrigerator. Apart was listed as a housewife in the U.S census for most of her life, although of course those few historical records pertaining to her inventions would have you believe otherwise. The thoughts of not having a fridge are baffling - what would happen to milk? How would you keep white wine or beer cold? How would one make ice? Where would you store chicken? How would you keep your brie from melting? Absurd.
Lyda Newman may not be the OG inventor of the hairbrush - she is however responsible for how it looks and feels today. This African-American introduced the synthetic bristles to the brush and got a patent for this invention back in 1898. Before Lyda, people were using Boar's hair to brush their locks. Lyda's bristles as we know them today collect the impurities in your hair - broken strands etc. and allow for easy removal after you've finished. They're also good for styling up-dos, backcombing, fluffing, coiffing and all other things one does with one's modern hairbrush.
Can you even imagine how many hours of your life you would spend washing your dirty dishes had Josephine Cochrane not invented the dishwasher back in 1886 while elbow deep in a tub of suds? It's unfathomable. Cochrane had been left in severe debt by husband William when inspiration struck after one of her servants broke some of her precious china. The industrial revolution had ended about 40 years previously and Cochrane had seen the fruits of this push for new machinations and inventions and thought why isn't there a machine to wash my dishes. She received her first patent in 1886 and sold all of her dishwashers by herself. A true businesswoman, and lifesaver.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie
Okay, so perhaps you could live without chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you don't have a sweet-tooth. However, it is my firm belief that Ruth Graves Wakefield changed the world indelibly with her discovery back in 1930. Having served butterscotch nut cookies at her Toll House Inn, MA, she looked for something that would further please her customers, and added that perfect chip of sheer delight in the form of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate. Chocolate and cookies. What an intriguing combination, and one I will forever be indebted to Wakefield for.
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